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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2008 Apr;18(2):179-87. Epub 2007 May 9.

Specifically designed physical exercise programs improve children's motor abilities.

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  • 1Curriculum of Sport Sciences & Physical Exercise, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.


Physical activity in schools is declining in many countries and inactivity in childhood has become a recognized risk factor. Data from a program of professionally guided physical exercise in primary school children were collected before and after the academic year of training. Four thousand five hundred children (6-10 years) were enrolled, and conditional and coordinative motor abilities (speed, trunk flexibility, long jumping, somersault, Harre circuit test) were measured. Anthropometric measurements were focused on body mass index (BMI), weight and height. Females never showed a significant variation of BMI, whereas males in the first and fourth grades showed significant differences. On the contrary, when considering the motor abilities studied, all the comparisons were highly significant. At the end of training, both males and females did better than at the beginning, and males were constantly faster than females. Our data, generated on a large number of children, show that professionally guided programs of physical education in the primary school lead to significant progresses in the development of conditional and coordinative abilities, without altering BMI values, thus not interfering with the balanced progression of body weight and height.

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